Children who learn good handwriting habits in the early grades develop the ability to communicate effectively as they share their thoughts and creativity on paper, ultimately shaping confident communicators.
The march of time and technology has not changed these fundamentals. Today’s students are producing more written work than ever before, and a strong foundation is critical to their academic success.
Here are five reasons your students need handwriting instruction, along with some great tips for building strong foundation skills.
1. Handwriting Success Starts with a Strong Foundation
Before children can begin learning how to write letters, they need to be taught the alphabet, practice fine motor skills, learn key vocabulary, and develop an awareness of letter size, shape, and positioning. These are interlocking concepts that help build a well-rounded, successful communicator.
Pre-writing activities help children practice the concepts they need to start writing their letters. These are skills that are generally taught during Pre-K and Kindergarten and should include hands-on manipulatives to promote fun and active learning.
Learning Without Tears offers a variety of hands-on manipulatives, including a Wood Pieces Set that helps students learn capital letter formations, and can even be used to build your very own Mat Man®.
When children develop strong foundation skills, teachers will have an easier time introducing the rules around grammar, spelling, and sentence structure.
When this is achieved, children can express their ideas and opinions on paper with appropriate speed, efficiency, and legibility, therefore they are demonstrating written communication success.
2. Handwriting is Key to English Language Arts Success
Students can only write a creative story if they are taught the mechanics of writing letters, words, and sentences first. Otherwise, their minds become stuck on the challenges of writing mechanics.
This is not a problem that is unique to ELA. The next time you encounter a math teacher, ask them about students who struggle to write and form numbers. It’s a problem for them, too!
3. Practicing Handwriting for 10 Minutes a Day Enhances ALL Learning
Handwriting instruction proceeds in three developmental stages.
- Direct instruction—During this stage, you are actively demonstrating how to write a letter/word/sentence to students. Use the strategy “My Turn, Your Turn” to make sure they are watching.
- Guided Practice—Which is when a student practices handwriting by copying from a visual model. This can be a letter, word, or sentence. You can create a whole library of handwriting worksheets for guided practice with our free tool, the A+ Worksheet Maker.
- Independent Practice—In this final stage, students write letters, words, and sentences on their own without a visual model.
4. Utilize Digital Teaching Tools
Given the current need for remote learning, let’s explore how we can leverage technology. How can you actively demonstrate correct letter formation and grip? Wouldn’t it be great if your digital teaching tool already had videos and rich content that are ready to share? What if you could share quick and engaging lessons that help you teach students learn how to form letters accurately?
Not only can you use technology to assist with the challenges of remote learning, but it can also help you plan and teach handwriting effectively.
When evaluating your options for digital teaching tools, consider those that can assign lessons, include a student application, and for handwriting support, they should align with a physical workbook for the student to use during guided practice.
Handwriting Without Tears has a new integrated print and digital handwriting solution that rolls all of these needed features into one package, providing educators with the expert-backed and research-proven resources they need—in the classroom and online—to ensure student success.
5. Easy Tips for Handwriting Instruction
Here are some easy tips you can implement, regardless of whether students are at home or at school.
Paper Placement—One thing many people take for granted is paper placement. People gravitate to placing the paper parallel with the table or desk’s surface because everyone likes right angles—right? But a slanted paper placement helps children write faster. This is because the arm doing the handwriting moves naturally with the paper, diagonally. Keep in mind that paper placement is different for left and right-handed children. An easy way to remember this is for a righty, the right corner goes up. For a lefty, the left corner goes up.
Soft Pressure—A common issue young writers have is bearing down on their pencils too hard. Try using a softer lead pencil and place a piece of cardboard under the child’s paper to see if the student can avoid making holes in the paper.
Overcoming Reversals— One of the main challenges we face when teaching handwriting are reversals. Children still learning about their world are used to objects and people not changing their name based on how they are positioned. Unfortunately, letters and numbers do not follow the same rule. The secret to helping students overcoming this is by providing learners with consistent, hands-on experience that allows them to practice different letter orientations. One great solution from Learning Without Tears is Wet, Dry, Try—a slate chalkboard that’s also available as an app.
Learn More by watching our free, on-demand webinar.
You’ve made it this far. Why not go a bit further with our in-depth webinar?
Join Paula Heinricher, OTR/L, and Valerie Zaryczny, OTR/L, who are both national workshop presenters for Learning Without Tears, to discuss and develop a solid understanding of effective ways to teach letter and number formation using digital teaching technology.
Paula and Valerie have worked in both school and home-based settings and are eager to share these innovative, research-based strategies for handwriting instruction with you. This webinar is focused on the needs of early education teachers, elementary curriculum directors, and district leaders.